I’m betraying my age, but when I was in high school, pi was 22/7 or 3.1416, and the answers to the geometry problems were to be rounded off to two decimal places. We had our slide rules, but most of the problems had to be done “the long way”. Calculators were not allowed to be used on tests or exams. I can think of two good reasons: most of us students couldn’t afford the expensive calculators, and the teacher wanted to make sure that we knew how to “do the math”.
A lot of new technology has been invented since my high school days, but circles will always be an important part of mathematics and its application to our lives. God must like circles because He sure made a lot of them! Psalm 19:1 in the Bible says: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God …”. I invite you to go to a nearby park or even take a close look at your own backyard (if you have one). I’ll bet you run out of time or give up before you count everything that is circular or spherical in its shape. Look inside your house and you will find man-made circular objects galore. Why? Symmetry, beauty, efficiency, and order, to name a few reasons.
I believe I’m correct when I say that pi is a real, irrational, transcendental, infinite, non-repeating, constant, prime number. It’s the only one of its kind. Correct me if I’m wrong.
National Geographic did an article with pictures of “almost” perfect circles in nature and in the universe. Such examples as: the rings of Saturn, the pupil of the human eye, the arc of a rainbow, tissues in the cross-section of a plant stem, a ripple, “fairy circles” in the desert grasslands. I believe they show eight pictures and descriptions in all. Type “almost perfect circles in nature” in your web browser and it will direct you to the site. You’ll be amazed!
A question that is often asked: Is Pi in the Bible? Yes it is! In the Old Testament, in First Kings chapter 7, and verses 23-26, where God gave to king Solomon the instructions for constructing the sea of cast metal. If we divide the circumference of the cast metal sea (“thirty cubits”) by its diameter (“ten cubits from brim to brim”), pi is 3. It may be pi to the “zeroith” decimal place, but it’s still pi. Solomon’s craftsmen weren’t building a spaceship to the moon so they didn’t need “pinpoint accuracy”. Also their measuring devices were the “cubit” (the distance from the elbow to the middle finger) and the “span” (the distance from the thumb to the little finger of a wide-open hand). So a pi of 3 was all that was needed to get the job done. I’m not a mathematician, but Roy A. Reinhold, in his website, ad2004.com/prophecytruths/articles/mathmysterys.html gives a picture and description of this huge sea of water, and does some mathematical calculations that result in a more accurate approximation of pi. Please check it out. It’s a short and easy-to-read article. If you type “biblical math mystery solution for pi” into your web browser, it will take you directly to that site.
By the way, isn’t pi always an approximation? You can calculate pi to a million decimal places, but you still haven’t come to the exact number. There is more calculation to be done, isn’t there? Frustrating, but amazing!
I hope this short message has given you an opportunity to think about the myriad of applications of pi in nature, how these shapes came into being, and the One who put it all together. I hope it has also caused you to think for a moment about infinity/eternity.
Happy Pi Approximation Day to you this 7/22/14, and may all your approximations be sufficient for their applications!